ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The University of Michigan was recently awarded a $3.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to strengthen its existing musculoskeletal health research program by accelerating new cross-disciplinary research throughout the university.
The grant, known as a P30, is awarded to a small number of U.S. institutions where a number of investigators from different disciplines focus on a common research problem through a joint research effort.
The cross-disciplinary research will happen through the new Michigan Integrative Musculoskeletal Health Core Center (MiMHC).
“The MiMHC was structured to accelerate science and innovation at U-M around understanding mechanisms of musculoskeletal health, injury and disease across the lifespan,” says Karl Jepsen, Ph.D., professor and associate chair of research of orthopaedic surgery, and director for the MiMHC.
He adds, “This grant enabled us to establish the MiMHC and will give our researchers the ability to break down silos within the various disciplines, while encouraging research targeting interactions across musculoskeletal tissue types, such as bone, muscle, tendon, ligament and cartilage.”
The MiMHC has three goals:
- Enable center investigators to conduct vertically-oriented science from the molecular level to the organ/functional level
- Create new opportunities for collaboration, training and mentorship
- Promote opportunities for novel and emerging science by focusing on research between basic scientists and clinicians, studies on sex-specific differences and interactions among tissues.
Three main research cores within the MiMHC will focus on histological assessment, structural and compositional assessment, and functional assessment. The cores move from molecular mechanisms through functional outcomes.
“These cores will enable us to turbocharge bench to bedside research,” Jepsen says.
60 faculty members from seven schools across U-M will compromise the MiMHC research community, including the School of Medicine, School of Dentistry, College of Engineering, School of Kinesiology, Life Sciences Institute, School of Public Health and College of Literature, Science and the Arts.
“We really want fellow researchers across campus to get to know each other and enhance collaborations,” Jepsen says.
Examples of cross-discipline research within the MiMHC include investigators in obstetrics and gynecology collaborating with an orthopaedics researcher to understand muscle stretch and function of the pelvic floor during vaginal birth, as well as investigators in orthopaedics, anatomy, anthropology and engineering collaborating together to understand anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries.
“This is an exciting time for those of us in musculoskeletal research,” Jepsen says. “Greater interactions between basic scientists and clinicians are important to the future of medicine and the care we will be able to provide to patients in the years to come.”